Jonathan walked through the airport lounge and flagged down a cab. Easing into the cab, he laid back and groaned. The 12 hour flight had been grueling, but a smile spread across his face at the thought of seeing his daughter. He smiled even wider as he imagined the look on Rachel’s face when she saw who was at her door.
Rachel had been given a scholarship to study in Canada two years ago and since then he had not physically seen his daughter. They all had grown accustomed to video calls every week but for the past few weeks, Rachel had been missing their video calls and always sounded strange and stressed over the phone. Jonathan and his wife had expressed their worry, and had settled for hoping their daughter was really okay until Jonathan finalized on a deal at the office. The deal had granted him a leave and enough money for them to visit their daughter without putting them in debt. His wife had gotten an urgent call from her place of work at the last minute so he had taken the trip by himself.
Jonathan straightened up as the cab slowed down and looked out. He had arrived at his daughter’s residence. He paid the driver and walked to the door, his body humming with excitement. He knocked on the door and waited, there was no answer. He knocked a few more times and when there was still no answer, he sighed. He hadn’t considered the possibility that his daughter might not be home. Disappointed, he pulled out his phone and called her.
To his bewilderment, he heard her phone ringing in the apartment. “Rachel are you in there?” he called. The door opened and there stood Rachel shocked at the sight of him alright, but he could also tell that she had been crying. “Dad?” she said incredulously. He laughed and opened his arms for a hug but she stood there staring at him. He waited patiently and when she did recover, she threw herself into his arms and sobbed uncontrollably. He held her tight and silently thanked God that he had decided to come, as his daughter was evidently not okay.
“Let’s go in and talk” he said but she shook her head vigorously crying even harder. “What is it?” he asked but she just kept on crying. Puzzled and mildly irritated by the odd behavior his daughter was exhibiting, he pushed her gently to the side and looked in. What he saw made his blood run cold. He gasped and searched his daughter’s face frantically for answers. They both stood there for a while, one in shock, the other crying incessantly.
Jonathan pulled himself together and thought fast. He pushed his luggage into the apartment, then turned to his daughter and whispered soothingly “ok, we are going out now, pull yourself together. Can you do that?” She nodded slowly and then went in to grab her coat and keys. She locked the door and they both walked away. Jonathan was in a daze as they walked, this had not been the evening he had fantasized about. He spotted a coffee shop ahead and motioned for them to go in. they sat opposite each other and he ordered two cups of coffee. When the waitress had left them, he faced his daughter squarely and asked bluntly “Rachel why is there a dead man in your room?”
Rachel swallowed hard and took a few deep breaths. “It was an accident dad, I swear” she said, her voice breaking. “Who is he?” Jonathan asked. “He is a course mate of mine. We got into a fight and I grabbed the knife without even intending to use it but…” “Why did you get into a fight?” Jonathan asked measuredly. She hesitated and glanced at her father who looked back at her unblinking. “Um, we sold stuff together but the strain of the job was too much for me so I decided to quit. But he wouldn’t have it. Things got physical and...” She broke down crying again and Jonathan glanced around to check if anyone was watching them. He waited for her crying to abate and then asked a question he dreaded the answer to, “what did you guys sell together?” Rachel looked at her father for a long time and then said “drugs”.
Even though he had somehow known that was the answer he was going to get, Jonathan still sat speechless in shock. He looked at the lady sitting opposite him and wondered briefly if it was truly his daughter or an impostor who was playing a joke on him, for this was not sounding like the girl he had raised. “Why Rachel?” he asked finally, his voice breaking. “I was lonely dad, all by myself. He was the only one who was there for me when I needed someone. So when he asked me to help him I had to or stand the risk of losing him as a friend.” Jonathan put his head in his hands, he suddenly felt very tired.
They sat there in silence for a long time without looking at each other but Jonathan’s mind was whirling. Suddenly he asked “do they rent cars around here?” “Yes why?” He ignored her and asked “do you know of any isolated areas?” Rachel slowly put two together and her eyes filled slowly with tears. “I honestly don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t showed up. Wait, why are you here? Is mum okay?” “Your mum is fine; we were worried about you so we decided to visit and surprise you. But she had an emergency at work.” Rachel laughed bitterly “it’s funny how life works, isn’t it?” “Let’s go” Jonathan said briskly.
They took a cab to the rental and then drove back to the apartment. Jonathan asked her to keep a look out while he went in to get the body. When he got in, he looked around but couldn’t find the knife Rachel said she had used. Shrugging, he bent closer to the body and recoiled. Unless he was very much mistaken, the cause of the bleeding was not as a result of being stabbed but a gunshot. He stood for a while wondering why his daughter had lied to him and he realized he didn’t know his daughter anymore.
He wondered briefly how things would be between them after sharing this horrifying experience and pushed the thought aside. He rolled up the body in a blanket and lifted it on his shoulder. Rachel was standing by the car with the trunk already open. He put the body in the trunk and they both got in the car. For minutes they drove in silence, Rachel at the wheel, on their way to a secluded area in town.
Jonathan opened and shut his mouth several times trying to question his daughter about his discovery but couldn’t find enough courage.
Suddenly Rachel gasped and he looked up and saw two policemen ahead of them. He gritted his teeth and prayed with all his might that they weren’t stopped but apparently God was busy as the policemen flagged them down asking them to park the car. As soon as Rachel parked the car, she opened the door and started running.
Both officers and Jonathan shouted after her but she continued running until a blast sounded and she fell. Jonathan looked around confused and then realized that one of the officers had shot her. Overcome by grief, he lunged for the officer but didn’t quite reach him when he heard another blast and felt an excruciating pain at his side. The last thing Jonathan thought of before the blackness of death enveloped him was his wife.
© 2020 Oshinowo Sherif